Durbin Discusses COVID-19 Response & Detection Of PFAS Near Scott Air Force Base With Air Force Chief Of Staff

SPRINGFIELD – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, today had a call with U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic at Scott Air Force Base (AFB), as well as an update on the detection of the two main types of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) – PFOS and PFOA – during site inspections at Scott AFB in February. 

“General Goldfein had high praise for the work being done at Scott Air Force Base to keep the community safe, while still performing missions that are essential to our national security – and I salute all the airmen and civilians working to make that happen,” Durbin said.  “I also asked General Goldfein to keep me and the community members around Scott Air Force Base updated as the Air Force learns more about the potential contamination of off-base water wells by PFAS.  We must continue to do everything we can to protect the public health of all those who work at Scott AFB as well as the residents living nearby.”

In February, Durbin went to Scott AFB and was joined by Air Force leaders and local officials to discuss the detection of PFAS chemicals at the base.  Durbin also joined a group of 30 Senators in sending a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler requesting he provide an updated timeline for when the EPA will implement commitments made in the agency’s plan to combat exposure to PFAS.  The EPA released its plan – the PFAS Action Plan – more than a year ago – and has yet to implement many of the commitments outlined in the strategy. 

PFAS are a class of 4,700 chemicals that are highly toxic and can be harmful at low doses.  They are nicknamed “forever chemicals” as they do not breakdown easily and can accumulate in people, food, and the environment.   PFAS has been linked to serious illnesses, including several types of cancer, birth defects, and thyroid disease. 

Durbin is a cosponsor of the PFAS Action Act of 2019, a bill to designate PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.  Durbin is also a cosponsor of the Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act of 2019, which tasks the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with regulating PFAS under the Clean Water Act and sets new standards restricting the flow of PFAS into surface waters. 

Over the past two years, Durbin helped increase funding for PFAS-related clean-up, research, and mitigation work at and near military bases to $483 million through the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee.